Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Album Review: Songhoy Blues - Optimisme

Songhoy Blues
**** out of *****

The third full length from the Bamako, Mali based four piece Songhoy Blues is titled Optimisme and it is the strongest record of their career. The quartet traverse genres, sounds and countries as they deliver an exhilarating mix of revved up desert rock with power to the people lyrics in multiple languages. 

Produced by Matt Sweeney (Zwan, Superwolf) the album kicks off with a slamming punk energy delivered by opener "Badala". The garage rock slamming drums are exhilarating as the band maintains a heavy hard rocking undercurrent throughout the tunes.

The groups backbone of desert rock and psychedelic guitars are still present with efforts like "Assadaja", "Korfo" and "Gabi" swirling out like a star shower above the sand but the band incorporates so many styles over the record it is intoxicating. A huge groove is delivered on "Barre" while the skittering guitars and sly work of "Fey Fey" recalls Jorge Ben and Manu Chao get downs.    

The songs are primarily written in the Songhoy language and address the topic of human rights in all forms. Tracks call for the end of misogynistic practices, removing the allure of rampant capitalism and delivering positive vibes wherever you go to continue the good fight. Along those lines is the one English based song "Worry" which is desert rock blues jam that builds and builds around the universal theme of perseverance.   

Language is never a barrier though when songs are as engaging as the funk rock of "Bon Bon" which recalls The Talking Heads at their best while "Dourima" brings in flashes of classic rock and harmonies around the desert rock riffs.  "Pour Toi" is a whirlwind of prog influences, acoustic strumming, and harmonizing before a full on disco dance party breaks out and seemingly never wants to end.  

The band ends with the meditative "Kouma" as the album exhales, however there are enough fireworks throughout Optimisme to hopefully elevate Songhoy Blues status even higher.    

Support the band, buy the album, stream it on bandcamp or below and peep some video:

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